HC allows Sharjeel to approach trial court for bail

The Delhi High Court on Thursday allowed JNU student Sharjeel Imam to approach a trial court to seek interim bail on account of an order by the Supreme Court to keep in abeyance all sedition proceedings in the country.

On May 11, the Supreme Court suspended pending criminal trials and court proceedings under Section 124A (sedition) of the IPC, while allowing the Centre to reconsider the British-era law. Around 13,000 people are already in jail under charges of sedition.

Mr. Imam had approached the High Court seeking bail in a case in which he is alleged to have delivered inflammatory speeches during the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

His application stated that after the Supreme Court’s directions, the hindrance raised by the special court while rejecting his plea for release stood obviated, as the offense under sedition could not be taken into consideration in the proceedings pending the final outcome of the constitutional challenges to the section.

On Thursday, the High Court allowed Mr. Imam to withdraw his application seeking interim bail from the High Court after Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad said that while Mr. Imam’s case essentially pertained to section 124A of the IPC, the law required the accused to first move the trial court for bail and approach the High Court in case of an appeal.

The background

Mr. Imam, who had done his Masters in Computer Science from IIT-Mumbai and was pursuing his Ph.D. from JNU in Historical Studies, was arrested on January 28, 2020, in Bihar’s Jehanabad district in connection with the protests against CAA near the Jamia Millia Islamia University in December 2019 which turned violent.

The former JNU student was booked under IPC sections 124A, 153A (promoting enmity between different religious groups with an intent to create disharmony) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief).

The Delhi police, in its charge sheet, had claimed that Mr. Imam, “in collusion with other conspirators, disrupted the essential supplies and services for the general public in Shaheen Bagh and instigated others to adopt his model of disruptive Chakka Jaam.”

The police also claimed, “Sharjeel Imam was not only spewing communal and seditious venom in cities and towns in the Hindi heartland of north India but was also visiting protest sites, arranging manpower and supervising the spread of this anti-national rot across Delhi.” 

Imam, along with several others, was also booked under the anti-terror law, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), in the conspiracy case of the February 2020 north-east Delhi riots, which left 53 people dead and over 400 injured.

On April 12, a trial court denied bail to Imam in the main conspiracy case of the north-east Delhi riots, stating that the allegations against him of conspiring to orchestrate the communal violence were prima facie true

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Printable version | Jun 18, 2022 5:01:14 am |